Top 12 Representations of Drugs in Films

It’s 20th of April today, also known as 420! So happy 420 and let’s get right to it!

Drugs are not a new topic in cinema. We’ve seen them from the moment Reefer Madness demonised marijuana. Or actually, maybe even earlier than that. Interestingly, the cinema has been always a mirror of a conversation which is taking place on the political scene. Are drugs bad? Are they good? Should we legalise them? What will happen if we do? What will happen if we won’t?

In the recent years I have noticed that with the legalisation of medical marijuana, more and more films show characters picking a joint over a can of beer. It’s interesting considering how much impact films had on the popularity of cigarettes in the past or alcohol for that matter.

I have my own opinion in this topic, which I don’t care to share. My intention is simply to present you with a number of interesting representations of drugs in films. By ‘interesting’ I don’t mean realistic or funny. I mean all sorts of things. What exactly? Let’s do it one at the time. Starting with…


12. Airplane!

Airplane! isn’t a drug-related film per se, but scenes where drugs are taken are definitely one of the most cult ones. Why? Maybe because they are play with the idea that something like coffee and cigarettes is easily comparable to glue and amphetamine (and aren’t they?), or maybe it’s because under the layer of a hilarious joke, it shows a much darker side of a drug addiction: it’s never a good time to quit anything.

11. The Wolf of Wall Street

It’s here not because of the overall treatment of drugs, or because of the car scene so well acted by DiCaprio you might be thinking he must had been on something. It’s because of the plane scene. About to be crashed, Jordan Belford and his accountant are sniffing the brains out of cocaine which they still have. If you’re going to die, you need to be high, they say. And this is what makes the drug addiction so scary. See, Airplane! for a lighter treatment of the same idea.

10. Bad Lieutenant

It’s all in Nicolas Cage. As much as Harvey Keitel version is much darker than Herzog’s film, it is Nicolas Cage’s performance that really does it. I can’t even remember which scenes he is on drugs in. Another example of a film which shows how fearless drugs make their characters feel.

9. A Scanner Darkly

This film takes its portrayal of drugs to the next level by presenting it with beautiful visuals, which recall some sort of trip on their own. But really, it’s about Robert Downey Jr. character and the mixture of glamour and disgust this film induces. Add his personal story to the mix and you can get really disturbed.

8. Trainspotting

The only reason why this film is so far on the list is because it’s my least surprising choice. If I were to pick one scene it would have to be the dead baby scene – not even the baby that walks on the ceiling, but the actual baby who dies. Straight away the mother’s grief is treated with heroin. Because what else is there to be done, right? Fucking terrifying.

7. American Psycho

I’m starting to think that this list might suggest I’m really against drugs, since all of the films here are some sort of warnings. American Psycho in my opinion most realistically shows how cocaine is a number one choice meal if you want to survive the high world. Yes, this is something literally every film on stock, money, millionaires and fancy suits says, but American Psycho shows this need internalised to its very edge. Does Patrick Bateman take cocaine and becomes more mad? Or is it cocaine that keeps him away from killing everyone (else)?

6. Pineapple Express

It’s to brighten up the mood. I will be watching this film tonight, most probably. Pineapple Express is my favourite high film. It’s funny, it’s about friendship and the scene when Saul and Dale get high with a catterpillar will warm your heart. The dopest dope I ever smoked.

5. 21 Jump Street

Ok, this list is no longer in any particular order, ok? So no, 21 Jump Street isn’t a better or more realistic representation of drugs than Trainspotting or I don’t know, Requiem for a Dream, but the way it shows how one phase turns into another is unmissible hilarious. It’s here so you can watch something tonight as a double bill with Pineapple Express. You’ll thank me later.

4. Requiem for a Dream

Watch with caution. Messed me up for years.


3. Enter the Void

I love this film. Yes, I do agree with all the criticism it gets. Yes, the whole plot is revealed in the first ten minutes of the movie. Yes, there’s more style and form to it than the quality of the story. Yes, yes, yes, but so what? It’s nearly three hours long and keeps your gaze still on the screen throughout. And it’s stunning. It’s so beautiful going back to the real word makes you miss it immediately. I guess that’s exactly what DMT feels like. So, bravo.

2. Christiane F.

I grew up on the book this film is based on, but I thought it was just my teenage taste which made me like it. A year ago I finally saw this film from the start to finish and I was shocked how unapologetic it was. It’s an exact adaptation of the book. The girl is definitely too young to be playing the role she is playing and it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s not a documentary. Abolutely terrifying, disturbing and most anti-heroin movie on this list.

1. Heaven Knows What

This film is probably the most underrated movie in the recent years, so see it instead of reading why you should. It doesn’t really tell a story. It doesn’t really have characters. It’s just a rubmle of some crackheads trying to get a fix. They walk around the city arguing, talking, planning, conspiring, getting high and then getting back to walking, arguing, talking, planning and trying to get high.

It’s a masterpiece.

Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal – Is His Hair Good Enough?

Today I saw a new clip from Demolition – one of these films with Jake Gyllenhaal we are all waiting for and yet, worrying that it will turn out to be something like Southpaw – the film I’m trying to forget about even though I never saw it. It might be the case that there is a correlation between Jake Gyllenhaal’s hair and the quality of movies he’s in. But before we get to it, here is the clip from Demolition:

It’s cute and nihilistic and it has this cool editing where people seem to be talking for long periods of time (because the scene jumps into the next one without the topic being changed). I don’t know if it’s happening in the present or in the past or in the future even, but whatever it is – it does work cooly.

Overall, Demolition looks good. I saw a trailer. The only concern I had was lack of clear direction towards which the film was going. But maybe, I thought, maybe some films don’t need a plot. I know a lot of good ones that don’t follow the traditional story patterns and instead, focus on the character’s development. And since, Demolition talks about grief and loss, maybe this is exactly what the director intended – to reveal the whole story, so we go to the cinema only to learn about its character.

I trust Jake Gyllenhaal or should I say, in Jake Gyllenhaal I trust. As an actor, he never disappoints, no matter how small of a task he gets and rarely does he get a small task.

However, there is one thing I noticed and it’s not necessarily always true, but in 80% of cases it seems to be – his hairstyle tends to determine the quality of the movie he starrs in. And not to panic – his hair is short in Demolition. Southpaw short.

Of course, rarely does Jake Gyllenhaal have verybad hair, however, sometimes his hair is perfect-hall and special, other times it’s only pretending to be long. It’s longish or long on the top, but on the side…it doesn’t promise a good movie.

Whenever his hair is fresh-shave-hair and lacking personality, the edginess of the Hall, it seems the film tends to suffer, too. For example, Love and Other Drugs the total rubbish has Jake Gyllenhaal looking like a Calvin Klein model:

the sides are messed-up. Too short. Rotten Tomatoes rating? 49%

With Rendition, another film which scored only 47%, Jake Gyllenhaal is Nick Carter. It’s bad. It’s really bad

And then, there’s Accidental Love. Still can’t believe this film came out last year.

This hair though, it never gave it a chance:

it’s a strong 7% hair.

So, I worry. I worry that Demolition will be a bad film, but I’m not going to be guided by American critics and am patiently waiting for the UK release, later this month. For now, let’s enjoy the clips while they’re lacking context.

The Club – The Club of the Broken

It’s almost impossible to watch The Club today without referring back to Spotlight – a film, which everyone loved, but nobody expected to win the very main Academy Award this year. Both films discuss a difficult and disturbing topic of sexual harrassment in the walls of Catholic Church – in Spotlight, these walls are constantly moved whils in the Club the walls are thicker than what they hold inside.

Pablo Larrain is the director of one of the most motivating films I watched – NO. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do immediately, however, watching the Club straight afterwards might be a surprising experience. The Club has little to do with NO, but Larrain’s sensibility to make unheard voices loud is in both of them.

In the words of distributor:

Four men live together in a secluded house in a small, seaside town. Each of them has been sent to this place to purge sins from the past. They live according to a strict regime under the watchful eye of a female caretaker when the fragile stability of their routine is disrupted by the arrival of a fifth man, a newly-disgraced companion bringing with him the past they thought they had left behind.

So, as you can imagine the film is dark. It’s beautifully dark. The pace is really slow, but it allows us to give our full attention to incredible directorial choices Larrain made when filming the surrounding. The time seems to always be dusking or dawning, the world always covered in fog. The images speak more than the words in the Club, although words, when spoken, are painful and disturbing.

Although, it was Spotlight which I cried through hearing the stories of the vitims, here the descriptions are much more direct. They seem almost vulgar when put against the raw, innocent environment it is filmed in. The nature, the cottage house, the sea.

What I loved about the Club is that it remains ambiguous all the way through. By introducing two characters to the cult-like cottage house structure, Larrain puts its viewers in an uncomfortable chair: the priests are obviouslt guilty of certain crimes and yet, we hope they will find themselves rather than get the punishment worse than they’re already subjected to. It is also the way they are being punished by the sins from the past – by life in isolation, which in reality seems more like letting them hide themselves rather than face the facts.

And some of them are homosexuals who didn’t commit any crimes. We want them to be loved.

But I didn’t like the Club as much as I liked NO and not because it was painful and complex, or slower than NO. Somehow, it left me cold and maybe a little bored. Maybe I wish Larrain made a statement of a sort.

THE CLUB directed by Pablo Larraín is in UK cinemas 25 March with a Special Preview Screening and Panel Discussion at Curzon Soho on Monday 21st March 6.20pm #TheClubFilm

The Club was

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, The Golden Globes 2015

Winner of Silver Bear – Grand Jury Prize,

Berlin International Film Festival 2015

and is coming out next week.